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March 09, 2020


Bruce Dickinson

Joe, Bruce Dickinson was about to comment on this, but lo and behold, I look back at the old article, and I saw a comment which I today, cannot say it better myself, because, I said it myself two and a half years ago in a quite cogent, if not poetic way:

Interesting idea, but as others have pointed out, Bruce Dickinson is not sure that in a practical sense, having districted seats of 29k population city such as Burlingame would result in drastically different decisions or outcomes in comparison to what we have today (which DJT would say, are 'Bad', 'Very Bad', and 'Sad'!)

Districting is used in larger cities to make up for socio economic disparities between neighborhoods, and one way to spot this is through the school system. Burlingame's elementary schools are very homogenous. The feedback that I get from parents as well as the Burlingame School Fundraising organization is that the kids, no matter what neighborhood they live in, are basically going to one school. Also the intermediate school is very high performing. So, while there is a large rental population, that population seems to be well dispersed in each of the different neighborhoods which each have their own school. One can say that maybe the school off of Trousdale (Franklin I believe) and the new Hoover may have more single family home representation, but otherwise the test scores, teacher quality, and access to resources are the same.

The only gerry-mandering that probably have some impact is to include only those places that have big multifamily populations (ECR corridor, parts near the hospital, and downtowns Broadway and Burlingame Ave, and off of Carolan), but that would result in the funniest looking district, but in reality all these apartments are sitting right next to multi million dollar homes where everyone is using the same schools, neighborhood businesses, etc.

Also, Bruce Dickinson's biggest beef with the current City council is the lack of independence (from real estate and business interests) and critical thinking skills, which may be due to the many hours of volunteer work for limited pay (that tend to favor easy, non-controversial decisions). Gerrymandered districts are probably not going to change that aspect much (maybe by one vote, but won't break any ties), as this is a problem with many Bay Area local govt's.

Lastly, the civic engagement problem is a big one in the world of record employment and Dow 22,000 - people are worried about many other things in life and you see also this in that there are so few contenders for City Council seats, because the opportunity cost for most occupations is significantly higher and honestly, the best human capital tends to gravitate to the most lucrative endeavors (there are exceptions, of course as many people who serve in office do so as a public service).

This is too bad, as each individual bad decision, on its own, probably has a minimal impact on vast majority of people, but you continue to make bad decisions for 4-8 years before people realize it's too late, and frankly, may have at least partially adjusted to the new (but patently inferior) "normal".

Gerald Weisl

Burlingame is not a "big city." Would residents here prefer to have 5 council members being accountable and receptive to their concerns or just one?

Has this been a problem over the past decades?

If it ain't broke, please don't fix it.

John Ward

I am unable to attend the City Council meeting this evening at which time you will be discussing formation of districts for purpose of electing City Council members. For the public record, please know that a group of us in the community will be reviewing options for restoring the right to vote for all members of the Council. We will keep you informed of any steps we may be taking in that regard. Thank you.


According to the DJ today, district-based council seats are coming our way:

The Burlingame City Council unanimously agreed to adopt the by-district system during the city’s next election in 2022, under pressure of a potential lawsuit threatening to force the change.

Burlingame councilmembers expressed frustrations with their limited options on the matter, in the wake of Malibu attorney Kevin Shenkman threatening to compel the shift through the courts.

“I find this whole thing very distasteful,” said Councilman Ricardo Ortiz, according to video of the meeting Monday, March 23.

State law heavily favors the district system, and cities face an almost insurmountable legal hurdle in efforts to defend at-large elections. To that end, City Attorney Kathleen Kane said cities can pay millions of dollars in legal fees to fight a losing case.


So get prepared for the Law of Unintended Consequences to bite us in the you know what. What a waste of staff time figuring out how to divide up the city and then dealing with council members who will have a more Balkanized mindset. I know the city attorney was worried about spending millions on defending a lawsuit, but one would hope there would be a better way. It's time for some phone calls to Assembly and State Senate offices to implement a broader change. Maybe get C/CAG or ABAG to do something useful for a change?

Peter Garrison

My Mom said she would’ve run for president but would have felt so bad if everyone didn’t vote for her that she decided not to run after all.


What happens where there is a district that nobody wants to run in?

Peter Garrison

My Mom would run because then everyone who voted would vote for Sara.

Jennifer Pfaff

I agree with all the opinions above-- and the worst (and saddest) part is that the constant threat of a lawsuit, whether it's dealing with wireless 5G or now this, largely determines the outcome before a fair discussion. It really doesn't seem right. This reminds me of the duo that run around the Peninsula suing small businesses over ADA issues. I have a lot of respect for those who do this in a non-confrontational manner, and they probably mostly get the outcome they want and need, but mostly, that doesn't seem to be the case.


The city attorney has no idea what a defense would cost in early, pre-trial phase or actually going to trial. Millions is highly unlikely. They should get an estimate from a guy. If he can take down Apple Computer some schlub from Malibu should be a cheap short walk in the park.


They should get an estimate from a guy IN TOWN.


Where do I sign up? I can beat Peter's Mom.


RE: Essential Services-City of Burlingame.
What to you believe is essential?
The Governor of CA. has clearly "laid out" very good restrictions based on Science and Data.
Nevertheless, The City of Burlingame is requiring Park Dept. employee's to come to work,or Suffer the consequences.
So I ask you what is essential vs. Non Essential?
-Is it picking up Dog/Human Feces?
-Mowing Lawns?
-Moving furniture for the Park Dept. Director?
COB Park Dept. Employees will soon be laid off permanently. The Hotel, Car Rental, Restaurant,Airline Business tax income is gone.
If things get back to Normal-There will be a New Normal it may be at least 18 months.
Anyway, when the Governor of CA. tells everyone to stay at home, how is the Furniture Moving Essential?
What do you folks believe is Essential?
What is Non Essential?
Please remember to Social Distance.
Bless you all.


If a COB employee gets corona virus wouldn't that be a Worker Compensation Claim?

Peter Garrison

Now you’ve hurt my Mom’s feelings, JP.
She’s decided not to run.


Well, hollyroller. I'm not sure what to say about your question. I don't see any park lawn mowing happening in my neighborhood so maybe furniture moving is all there is to do? At least the garbage cans in the "closed parks" that aren't all that closed seem to be getting picked up.

Indio 85

Dickinson post should read:

Interesting idea, but as others have pointed out, Bruce Dickinson is not sure that in a practical sense, having districted seats of 29k populated city such as Burlingame would result in drastically different decisions or outcomes in comparison to what we have today (which DJT would say, are 'Bad', 'Very Bad', and 'Sad'!)


Wheels of government are still turning:

The move to district elections in Burlingame advanced with officials hiring a consultant to guide the public outreach process, plus draw district maps where candidates must live to run for elected office.

The Burlingame City Council voted 4-0-1, with Vice Mayor Ricardo Ortiz absent, to approve a $60,000 contract with Redistricting Partners.

Mike Brownrigg makes a good point here about losing the every-two-year debates:

Councilman Michael Brownrigg expressed his frustration with the move, sharing expectations that constituents may be displeased that their voting power will be reduced under the district election system.

“A lot of people will be surprised they only get to have their voice heard once every four years,” he said.


Jennifer Pfaff

Well, I listened to the Study Session last evening, and even posed a question. However, after an hour and a half of what seemed to amount to convoluted "gobbly-goop," (whoops, auto-correct keeps replacing with "poop"...) my take-away can be summed up with this: District Elections in a smaller city like ours are going to benefit one particular group--Consultants (and oh, yeah--Attorneys).

I didn't hear anything at all to indicate that here in Burlingame, it would help a particular minority or group of interest. However, the consultants will have a very nice ongoing gig for decades, since the chosen districts will need to be reassessed periodically.


Seems this subject has something to do with elections and voting? how quaint.


The current City Council is disconnected from the real concerns of most Burlingamers.
A new District restructed City Council will be much worse and very divisive.
Government always seeks a new low in efficiency and effectiveness.
Burlingame will no longer be a true City but rather a group of separate neighborhoods. Very sad, totally unnecessary and without purpose.


Interesting profile of the guy you can thank for the change: https://www.latimes.com/local/abcarian/la-me-abcarian-shenkman-voting-20170514-story.html


Thanks for sharing.
How sad to devote one's life to the Balkanization of a society.
Burlingame has to be the lowest possible target for what he claims is his underlying objective.
Just another lawyer gone mad.
Not surprising that the current Woke City Council, with most in search of higher political positions, sells out the City for this ill conceived and destructive initiative.


You’ll notice that nationally as well as locally Divide and Conquer is the reality under the code word “Unity.”

Just Visiting

Curious how many of you have actually read the staff reports regarding the legal challenge and Burlingame's realistic chance of winning the promised lawsuit? Right, wrong, or indifferent (and I put myself in the "why do we need this change?" category), the state law is brutal for cities on this question.

Also curious that the idea that the five Burlingame residents on the council are somehow disconnected from the city they represent. Three of them have been on the council for more than a decade, and the other two were very involved community volunteers before overwhelmingly winning election (twice). But I guess the voters don't know what they are doing?


" But I guess the voters don't know what they are doing?"

BINGO..... There is a progressive, anti personal freedom, anti property rights, and very corrupt and dishonest movement going on across the planet, here in the PRA, here in California, and even in our community. They have very different goals than some of the views I read here.

One guy stood against those goals and 80% of the voters rejected him. (that's if you want to trust the voting machines and process. I don't anymore.) He has nothing to do with Burlingame but the movement in that direction was important for us and we failed. We lost. All those snarky jokes everybody told each to get social credit points aren't so funny now.

So live with it. Burlingame like everywhere on the planet is going to change.

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